Sea Art Festival 2021: Non-/Human Assemblages

Sea Art Festival 2021

Sea Art Festival 2021
Non-/Human Assemblages
October 16–November 14, 2021

This year, the Sea Art Festival embraces the flux, precarity, and the unknown within which we all find ourselves, by tracing the liquid flows running across all human and non-human bodies that enmesh us in a complex assemblage of friction, resonance, and kinship.

Our Festival venue in Busan comprises Ilgwang Beach, Gijang county, and the East Sea, where artists render visible the latent interrelations among these ecologies, creating portals through their installations: portals to deep-sea temporal journeys, the geo-politics of interspecies extractivism, oceanic cyberpunk creatures, more-than-human ancestral spirits in Gijang village, the meandering lives of algae and eels, the soundscapes of queer corporealities, the luminescent poetry of sea-wind and anemones.

Ritika Biswas, the Artistic Director of Sea Art Festival 2021 is from Kolkata, India. She is the youngest, and first foreign and female artistic director in Sea Art Festival history. She studied Literature, Art, and Humanities at Yale-NUS College, Singapore, subsequently receiving her MPhil in Film and Screen Studies from the University of Cambridge. Until recently, she was a curator at New Art Exchange in the UK.

Our participating artists are: Kyunghwa Kim, Yejun Ryu, Jae Kuk An, Jin Sun Lee, Hanjin Choi, Joydeb Roaja, Kerem Ozan Bayraktar, Kuei-Chih Lee, Rohini Devasher, Shezad Dawood, Ru Kim, OBBA, Byungchul Cho, Anna Kim (Korea Research Institute for Culture Technology), Taewon Oh, Jiandyin, Raqs Media Collective, Leeroy New, Choi+Shine Architects, Lyno Vuth with Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, Abhijan Toto, Hutsama Juntaratana, Pujita, Rosalia Namsai Engchuan, Thanakorn Phonthanakornkul, Yonaz Kristy, Zeke Sales, and bela for the Forest Curriculum, and Lawrence Abu Hamdan.

In the age of bio-ecological collapse and socio-political upheaval, how do we become porous and extend our consciousness beyond the self? To evoke Jasbir Puar’s thinking from her essay ‘I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess’: “Assemblages do not privilege bodies as human, nor as residing within a human animal/nonhuman animal binary. Along with a de-exceptionalizing of human bodies, multiple forms of matter can be bodies—bodies of water, cities, institutions, and so on.” Sea Art Festival 2021 invites visitors to experience uncanny, joyful, and unsettling encounters with our own non-humanness and the many worlds we all inhabit, especially those we cannot always immediately perceive. A fluid, evolving ecology, constantly renewing as we morph, a non-/human assemblage asks us to question, with curiosity and humility, how and why exist in relation to one another rather than as discrete subjects.

Referring to the always hybrid assemblage of matters that constitutes watery embodiment, we might say that we have never been (only) human. This is not to forsake our inescapable humanness, but to suggest that the human is always also more-than-human.

Astrida Neimanis, Bodies of Water

Water compels our politics, our imaginaries, our organic processes, our economies, our existences. These currents are infinitely reproduced in anthropocentric consumption and existence: from deep water fracking and sea mining, policing oceanic boundaries against refugees, late-capitalist fishing industries, to colonial violence against indigenous peoples. But the seas are also spaces of wondrous queer ecologies, carriers of artistic memory and literary histories, of multi-species care and survival.

The works at the Sea Art Festival 2021, as well as our public and academic programmes hold space for these assemblages. How do we visualise the communal strategies of sub-microscopic oceanic algae and benthic fauna? Why do some nation-states indict the sea as a necropolitical actor? What are the frictions among sweat, non-human trade routes, and artificial intelligence? How do we mourn bodies stranded on sea-shores? It is perhaps through such considerations that we might re-imagine our insularities to become more porous entities enacting a more liquid world. In Sea Art Festival 2021, we foreground this intimacy, to engage in moments of play, becoming, and entanglement.

Read more about Busan Biennale